There is Nothing More Frightful Than Ignorance in Action

5

Well the person that proclaimed Houston’s on the Wildflower site is a “done deal” is at it again. This time Mr. Glenn Gromann is on the public record as saying that the City of Boca Raton’s 2011 Electronic Survey of citizens regarding their preferences for use of the Wildflower site is “by any stretch of the imagination not statistically significant to determine anything.” Councilman Weinroth, on the other hand, recently asked the right question regarding our scoring of that survey, i.e., “[I’m] interested in your statistical confidence interval to validate the results.” This paper explains standard, accepted statistical confidence intervals, also known as margins of error, calculated for our scoring of the City’s survey. We show that Mr. Gromann’s comments are wrong and reveal a pattern of trying to publicly belittle and discredit citizens with information that is incorrect.

 

Background

The situation regarding the City’s 2011 Electronic Survey is that the scoring of the survey results by the City Staff misrepresents the responses of the citizens. The results of this survey were used as the basis for deciding to pursue an arrangement for a restaurant on the Wildflower site. This is described in more detail in the October 19, 2015 article in the following link.

https://bocawatch.org/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/

Mr. Gromann’s comments about this article were made at the October 27, 2015 City Council meeting. View this short video clip if you missed his comments at the meeting.

https://youtu.be/Bti32f6KxBE

 

Using Confidence Intervals to Establish Statistical Significance

The information provided to Councilman Weinroth shows the confidence intervals of our scoring of the City’s 2011 Electronic Survey. The confidence intervals relate to the second line in the following table.

Electronic Survey Scoring

 

At a 95% confidence level with a population of 91,000 and a sample size of 78, the following confidence intervals exist:

Park 49%-71%

Restaurant 12%-30%.

That is, the Park category in line 2 has a confidence interval of 60% ±11% and the Restaurant category in line 2 has a confidence interval of 21% ±9%. The general rule of thumb is that the lead (Park 60%) must be at least twice the margin of error of the second leading category to be significant. So the margin of error on line 2 of above table is 11% and the lead is 60%. Adding 22% (2X11%) to the restaurant result (21%) means that the park result is significant, i.e., 43% vs 60%. These calculations were performed using the mathematics of probability.

A simple way to interpret the results is that there is 95% confidence that if the City’s entire 91,000 citizens voted, between 49% and 71% would favor a park. Additionally, between 12% and 30% would favor a restaurant.

 

Gromann’s Comments

Note that the situation that Mr. Gromann is attacking is the validity of the survey conducted by the City of Boca Raton. This survey was not conducted by the authors of this article or any citizen group. It was designed and conducted by City Staff. The execution of the survey seems fair and unbiased. The question posed to the citizens was open-ended and not leading. All citizens had the opportunity to respond and they were provided three months to do so. Responses were accepted from the City’s Web site and by email and by letter. As noted in the background section, a problem exists with how the City Staff scored the results. The authors of this article, during due diligence, rescored the results based on each citizen’s intent. We then calculated statistical significance based on the fairness of the survey process and the rescored results.

In his comments Mr. Gromann indicates that 150 responses to a polling of 91,000 citizens “is not statistically significant by any stretch of the imagination to determine anything,” yet for four years he accepted the City Staff’s conclusion that a restaurant was preferred based on 61 responses. The timing of his turnaround is curious as it occurred shortly after we wrote an article on the survey scoring issue and the restaurant was announced by the City to be an “undone deal.” It looks like he is making a desperate attempt to prove something, but it is not clear what that is or why.

Another issue with Mr. Gromann’s comments, that is a pattern, is that he waits until all citizens have spoken during the public request interval before he speaks. He then tries to belittle the citizens who have spoken before him in order to create doubt regarding the credibility of their comments. As noted in this article, his comments are either ignorant or untruthful but linger in the minds of City officials and citizens because prior speakers do not have to opportunity to refute his comments. To an extent his tactic overwrites the messages of prior speakers.

It is very time consuming for citizens to perform the quality analysis described in this article. We also have to pay the City for public records. Then we communicate our finding to City Council members via email, but get a quasi-canned response that doesn’t address the issue but says something like “I’ll give it my full consideration.” To make our voices heard we then have to prepare a talk and attend City Council meetings to deliver our message. When City Council members sit silently and allow Mr. Gromann to attack our credibility it is quite discouraging. We then have to write articles like this one to potentially motivate someone to do something.

When Mr. Gromann makes assertions that are untrue he crosses a line. He is either being deliberately dishonest or is ignorant of the truth. There seems to be a pattern of his behaving this way while involved with City business and City leaders have been advised of this, but do nothing. This has to change as it reflects badly on City leadership and is a disservice to the citizens.

 

Summary

This article addressed concerns about Mr. Glenn Gromann’s asserting that the City of Boca Raton’s 2011 Electronic Survey of citizens regarding their preferences for use of the Wildflower site is “by any stretch of the imagination not statistically significant to determine anything.” We rescored the City’s survey results to reflect the intent of each respondent. Using the rescored results, we then calculated confidence intervals to the 95% confidence level using the mathematics of probability. We then calculated statistical significance using the generally accepted rule of thumb that the leading category has to be at least two times the margin of error from the next leading category. The conclusion from this is that the rescored survey results are statistically significant.

We then questioned Mr. Gromann’s behavior regarding his tactics where he attempts to belittle citizens and cast doubt on their credibility using a process advantage, but with no factual information. We then question why the City leadership does nothing about this after many citizen complaints.

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Jim Wood is a 25-year citizen of Boca Raton. Upon arriving in Boca from Arizona, Jim and his family had a house built in Broken Sound in the western section of the City. After the last of their three children left for college Jim and Trish downsized and relocated to east Boca, where they have lived for 18 years. His volunteering activities include serving eight years on an advisory board in the City. Jim is a computer engineer who advanced into executive positions with telecommunications companies Siemens and Lucent. He holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and management, a master’s degree in computer engineering and an MBA. He is also a veteran who served four years on active duty with the United States Air Force. His interests include cycling (A1A), guitar (acoustic) and cooking (healthy comfort food). He is a member of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the FAU Alumni Association.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The results are not statistically significant and they belie the point that government should not by run by either surveys or statistics. I did state on record that I believed Mr. Woods assertions were correct just that one would expect that folks who advocated this point of view would have responded to the poll he was talking about not the City survey which was also unscientific. As a resident of the City I get to express my point of view as others do? Opinions cannot be untruthful? Attacking me personally (which is what you are claiming I am doing to “residents”)accomplishes nothing and does not help your message. We probably agree on more than we don’t.

  2. My observations:
    1. I noticed that when Gromann introduced himself he did not bloviate about his credentials as an attorney. Was this an oversight or is the Florida Bar doing its work?
    2. You say that the city has ‘a fiduciary responsibility to provide world class services’. What about ‘world class amenities’? A park for instance.
    3. Are you willing to provide us with a breakdown of the revenue and expenses the city, and by definition the taxpayers, will accrue if the proposed development on 770 (which you so enthusiastically endorsed) goes ahead in its current form?
    4. Don’t underestimate the power of the social media that you so quickly disparaged. Guess what Gromann. These platforms reach an audience that you could only dream of. And by the way, the city may have 90,000 residents but it doesn’t have 90,000 voters.

  3. my questions are – how much money was gromann supposed to make on the hillstone deal? how much money has gromann made on any of the buildings that have been pushed through and approved? what are gromann’s interests in other dealings that are going in front of city boards and council? how many yes votes did he cast for his friends? unless the answers are all zero than there are a lot more differences between him and the citizens who want the best for the city.

  4. Pardon my ignorance but who is Glenn Gromann? How long has he lived in Boca Raton? What is his occupation? I read that he is an attorney- is this so? Does he sit on any city boards ? If so what one? Does he serve as a registered agent or represent any companies in the city? . Has he ever had to declare any conflicts with a vote if he is indeed on a city board.?

    We subscribe to the 2 local papers but the Post seems to not be interested in Boca Raton And the Sun Sentinel ( which I am about to cancel) seems to only mention Boca every now and then but always positive as if we do not have any woes- for starters how about the public hearings on the 70 plus trains that will be running on the tracks that abut US 1/Dixie Highway? Were there any public hearings on the issue? Did we have any public input? How about our single family zoning districts that have become fraternity houses on our streets? Off campus housing is becoming a city proposal that will require some zoning changes. Be careful everybody….
    –I had a letter to the SS Editor refused (first time ever) because I referred to the greed that seems to be running prevalent in our city.

    And that is why I need some info on this person that only Boca Watch and their readers seem to know.

    Thanks again for a great site—oh for the good old days……

    xx oo carol hanson

    does he sit on any of the city boards, if so, what one?

    • Carol, Glenn Gromann is the most outspoken member of the Planning and Zoning board. If you watch any video of the P and Z meetings online. It’s obvious he is on the side of developers every time, asking leading questions to city staff and others as if they are on trial. Apparently he had some legal issues in the past (you can find online). At least at some point he was an attorney and he is a developer in the city.

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